by Harold Jokela
$file="closeEncounter.php"; include('tcounter.php'); ?> Copyright, © 2006, Harold Jokela
“Are you saved?” asked one of the two ladies standing at my door recently.
“Saved from what? I asked.
“From Hell,” she answered. Well, I'd heard this sales plea before and I wanted to get back to my reading, but I recounted for them how I'd been saved already, at the age of 13. Not only had I been saved then, but I had been saved twice in one day! It was my first real encounter with Christians when this happened.
My mother had convinced me that I'd earned a week's vacation which was to be spent at a Bible Camp some fifty miles from our farm. Perhaps she was as concerned of my future as were the two ladies now listening to my savings account. I agreed, after some reservations (like who would take care of my animal friends). I packed my gear along with a new New Testament and a flashlight my mother gave me for my first lonely excursion away from home. She probably felt the two gifts would take care of both my physical and spiritual needs. So I set off with a bus full of other lonely, and, as yet, unsaved boys and girls for my first Biblical adventures.
My Bible studies at camp were now often distracted by the presence of girls, two in particular, who seemed to like my attention. I enjoyed their attention too and the softball and swimming activity. My new flashlight proved useful after lights-out was ordered to find my new friends in the dark of the night. I did manage to memorize a few Bible verses, however. I already knew that I had to give a little in order to get something in return (my golden rule).
At the lunch in the camp messhall on the third day, our speaker was a guest minister who took the floor. He shortly asked the question I'd just heard from the ladies at the door, “Are you saved?”
He went on to describe Hell and I wondered to myself if he'd been there himself. I was sufficiently frightened so I came forward with Freddie to accept Jesus and be forever saved from the eternal fires. Our camp pastor, however, whispering words to the guest, called for an end to the saving of all the other frightened but happy campers. Instead we sang the song “When the Roll is Called Up Yonder, I'll Be There”. I knew my mother would be pleased with my choice but I worried about the fate of my fellow campers. I sadly went about enjoying my swimming with them that afternoon.
Evening came and we were all asked to come to a revival meeting in the camp lodge. Everyone showed and the program began with singing and prayers. A few adults gave testimony to their belief in the saving grace of Jesus. After another description of Hell, the organist began to play and our camp pastor called for the young campers to come forward, a few at a time (there were about 50 campers present), kneel, and accept Jesus as their savior from the agonies of Hell. The organ music kept coming as well as the campers. After about two hours, there were only two campers still sitting in the back seats, Freddie and I. All of the other campers were now in another room (each group left as they were saved) but the organ continued to call forth these last two holdouts from redemption. But we were already saved! Yet everyone was waiting for us to come forward. So shortly after 10:30, we saw there was no choice but for us to go forward again in order to put this whole camp to rest that evening. Fred and I sacrificed our integrity in front of God in order to bring peace to the multitudes of Christians now in our camp. So we accepted Jesus again. The organ came to rest first and the lights went out in the camp. Freddie and I took a walk to the beach to be in the silence of the stars. I had no need to use my flashlight that evening.
Bible Camp came to an end but not the love of Jesus. My mother and family welcomed me home. As I looked at each of them I knew my camp mission was near impossible: To bring them to Jesus (even once). I was alone in my dream state (not like the two ladies) until I returned to my chores, milking four cows and feeding three cats every evening. It was in the barn where I found my sinners.
I would knock on the barn door, enter, begin my milking, and then proceed to save these friends of mine from eternal torment at the hands of the Devil. They readily accepted my prayers, Bible verses, and hymns along with my overflowing love, milk, water and hay. I knew then that when it was my turn to enter the pearly gates, there would be much meowing and mooing for me and that I would be forever thankful for my close encounters with Christians of the first kind. Good bye, ladies.